Magazine article Parks & Recreation

A 'Brand'-New Golf Course for Arlington, Texas

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

A 'Brand'-New Golf Course for Arlington, Texas

Article excerpt

In 2008, architect John Colligan started talking to the city of Arlington, Texas, about renovating its municipal Chester H. Ditto Golf Course. At that time, the golf economy was still riding a 15-year development boom, and upgrading cityowned courses had become commonplace.

When the Great Recession hit, an oversupplied golf course economy was greatly impacted. Just two years later, course closures would outnumber new openings for the first time in 30 years - a trend the industry has experienced every year since.

However, the city of Arlington has since become a poster child for the lucrative synergies linking sports and entertainment. While the Dallas Cowboys' competitive fortunes have flagged somewhat, AT&T Stadium has been a boon to local business and municipal tax coffers, attracting concerts, conventions and sporting events eager to engage with the Cowboys brand.

Spurred on by this example, the Texas Rangers followed suit, and in November 2016, Arlington voters approved the use of tax dollars to pay up to $500 million toward a new baseball stadium, complete with retractable roof. The city will use revenue from a half-cent sales tax, 2 percent hotel-occupancy tax and 5 percent car-rental tax to fund its share, with the Rangers committed to pay any cost overruns. The $1.1 billion Globe Life Field is expected to open in time for the 2020 baseball season.

Meanwhile, site work on the new ballpark, as well as construction on the Texas Live! bar and restaurant complex next door, is underway on what were formerly parking lots. This 200,000-square-foot Texas Live! development will open sometime this summer, and a $150 million luxury Loews Hotel and convention center will follow suite in 2019. According to Colligan, what had been an onagain, off-again, slow-moving courtship with the city was transformed by these large-scale, public/private, sports/entertainment partnerships.

The Texas Rangers Golf Course

"It was 2014 when we started working with the city on a master plan," says Colligan, an Arlington resident since 1974. "At the time, they hadn't really said much about the new baseball stadium; in fact, the citizens approved it while we were working on construction documents for the golf course. But, we felt confident it would happen. There were rumors the Rangers would go to Dallas if they didn't get a new stadium, and the city sure didn't want to lose 'em."

According to Gary Packan, Arlington's assistant park director, the newly renovated golf course, funded by natural gas wells located within city parks and on its municipal courses, will open for play this July with a brand-new name: Texas Rangers Golf Club. Its $8.5 million price tag is small compared to the $500 million residents have committed to the Globe Life Field.

"People love their hometown sports; it's become a significant business here," Packan says. "The Rangers brand alone will help us reach people we typically would not reach through our marketing channels. We see a lot more opportunity here these days. If we can renovate and partner with other agencies to make this facility all it can be, that would really solidify an already stable golf operation - and anything we could generate above and beyond it gives us flexibility to reinvest."

Texas Live! and the new Loews are just two of five Arlington hotels now in some stage of development, according to Decima Mullen with the Arlington Convention and Business Bureau. …

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